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February is Pet Dental Month, in the US. Its organised by the The American Veterinary Medical Association who estimate more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have oral disease by the time they are three years old.

ive seen a lot worse than this

ive seen a lot worse than this

The message is “go to the vet and let them check you pet’s teeth.
When you see the vet in Pet Dental month, there are lots of things that the vet will look at, apart from just the teeth.
Here is a list of some things which the veterinarian may be assessing, when they look in your pet’s mouth.
Of course, there are many benefits apart from these for a check up, as the vet will always check the whole body and not just look in the mouth!

1) bad breath. Can be a sign of dental decay, but also if the Kidneys are not working, the breath occasionally becomes bad also and so thats one thing the vet will be trying to rule out.
2) rotten teeth. These can be painful, or even cause an abscess. Bacteria around rotten teeth which are neglected for a long time can get into the bloodstream and cause further complications in some circumstances also.
3) broken teeth- any broken teeth can be painful or perhaps decay more quickly so they need to be discovered and regularly assessed.
4) tongue- check for ulcerations which could be symptoms of a virus, or other disease.
5) soft palate- young dogs can in rare cases be born with problems with the roof of the mouth, so the vet will check here in a new/ young dog.
6) growths- its possible to get lumps and growths within the mouth, either on the gums or even on the tongue, so the vet would be able to see if this was the case.
7) pale gum colour- a sign of low blood concentration which could be a sign of a problem.
8) too many teeth- sometimes baby teeth don’t fall out, then the mouth is too crowded and more prone to food sticking between the teeth and then the teeth rotting. So if the teeth have not fallen out by 6-12 months of age, the vet usually recommends these to be removed.
9) holes in the teeth- at specialist clinics its possible to do fillings although this is very rare still due to the high cost, so big holes are normally an indication that the tooth must be removed to avoid pain.
10) gingivitis- vet will check for redness/inflammation along the gum line, meaning that the gums are sore due to bad mouth hygiene- normallly requiring a dental procedure at the clinic to clean the teeth.
11) tartar- lots of brown/yellow lumps on the teeth, basically its a more solid form of plaque, again the vet needs to remove it.
12) recessed gums- a sign of severe disease in the mouth.
13) bleeding gums- also a  sign of severe mouth disease.
I like lists. Want any more PET LISTS? let me know.

This list is not fully exhaustive… see the associated thread on the Pet Doctor Forum to see if it has been added to?


As a veterinarian, people ask me all the time about what these things are.

“It might be a problem with Alfie’s anal sac’s” I say

“what the heck are they?!!” they reply with a puzzled look on their face, as if I have just insulted them.

Well, these glands with a horrible name, are also in a horrible place- right next to the bottom. And to the bane of vet’s worldwide, they don’t simply just get on with their job of being a scent marking sac…. oh no, they often regularly decided to get ‘bunged up’ with sludge, a bit like leaves in the gutter… and who’s job is it to clear the gutter…. oh its mine, Mr Veterinarian! 😉

Anyway, on a more serious note, these glands do have a role, and they can get some problems. I’m sure every dog owner and every vet has stories to talk about these glands!

Check this recent thread on the Pet Doctor Forum to see what they are in more detail.


when pets have operations, they often are sent home with big collars on…

people often know that their friend’s pet has seen the vet, because they see them wandering around with a bandage on their leg, and a huge white collar around the top of their head.

“can your dog eat with that huge thing on?” you ask them? “it makes your dog look like an alien!”.

Well, what are they for, and why?

This recent thread on the Pet Doctor Forum explains in some detail what they are used for and why. But what do you think of them?

Would it be better to use something else to do this function instead of a collar? If so, what?!!

Feel free to comment on your thoughts- on the comments page of this blog. (Or see the thread link above, and get involved in the conversation there….)

so, whats all the fuss about?

Well its about this

I am a tub of peanut butter

I am a tub of peanut butter

and THESE…..

salmonella salmonella_bacteria

well Dr Matt, nice pictures, but what are they?!!

Ok, the pretty artistic things are not aliens, but are infact Salmonella bacteria. One factory in the US accidentally somehow contaminated the peanut butter with the latter! And it appears now that peanut butter is in many things, NOT just in your grandma’s sandwiches.

One thing its in is in PET FOOD.

If you have a pet, what to do? Well, check this online pet/veterinary forum discussion yesterday on the very same topical issue…what are the peanut butter recall implications on pet food? (If you post a few questions, perhaps someone will answer it if you have any further questions).

what do people think about fleas? Have you ever seen a flea?


Electron Micgrograph photo (courtesty Bayer) of a flea biting a pet

Electron Micgrograph photo (courtesty Bayer) of a flea biting a pet

There is an interesting discussion on a pet/veterinary forum here, where a member of the public asks if “flea control is just a big scam” or if its really needed.

What do you think? As a vet, I must say its essential against some different diseases (the posts on the forum above explain it well).

Anyway- I hope you like these images! Fleas are so small but they can jump about 30x higher than their body length…amazing eh… thats how they can jump quickly from one pet to another!!

117 views yesterday, not too bad if i say it myself…. just started on twitter… anyone here use that…. big experiment for me…

im using it to promote mynew forum

see here for my forum

and here for my twitter

Ive ambitiously decided I want to aim for a forum of 100k users, but am happy with 10k by the end of this year. Lets see what happens eh.

Keep an eye on the twitter feeds, if thats your thing!

But I will stick to the pets and art on this blog and not get too distracted, don’t be worried…!

Im always interested in new technology and its role in the pet world.

Will your vet next time be performing text message surgery when you take them your pet?

Médecins Sans Frontières surgeon Dr. David Nott (working in the Congo) recently performed a life-saving amputation of a young boy’s gangrenous left arm after receiving step-by-step text messaging instructions from a colleague!

The young boy was spear fishing when he had most of his left arm ripped off by a hippo.  A’ forequarter amputation’ is no small operation, even in a big hospital as it entails the surgical removal of the entire upper extremity, and 2 other bones- the scapula, and clavicle.

Dr. Nott had never performed such a surgery, but luckily, his friend in the UK had, so he sent his friend, Professor Meirion Thomas, a text message…. Thomas replied almost immediately with 10 steps Nott should follow to carry out the procedure and then signed off with “Easy! Good luck.”

Amazing world eh.

just a note for those coming to this blog and asking me about veterinary questions like ‘how do I become a vet’..

i would like to direct you to these great forums

for the UK

for the US

actually the US forum is much more interesting, which is frustrating for me seeing as Im from the UK

"look into my eyes..."

so waht have pets got to do with art anyway? well, if you have ever looked into a cat’s eyes I dont think you need to be asking that question, animals are often art/beauty in motion, and watching a cat move can be as fascinating as watching a painter complete a painting.

I got interested in both art and animals at a young age, and Im sure there is some kind of connection although I can’t really put my finger on it.

As a veterinary surgeon, I know that my lightness of touch in surgery (and enjoyment/skill in surgery) is related to the sensitive dexterity I need if I am painting a painting, or doing a sketch. So, transferrable skills.

But is there more to it than the fact both skills (surgery and painting) require manual dexterity? who knows….

I’m a veterinarian, people always ask me the same questions.
People I meet in bars for the first time say ‘so, you must really like animals then?”.
Men never really bother with this and usually go straight into the line “oh, you guys are so expensive, what a good job, you earn loads of money eh?”.
Sometimes people ask vets “so are you in it for the money or the animals then?”.
Anyway, the answer is of course as a vet I love animals, (and actually the salary isn’t that great).
Anyway, whatever we discuss, its always fun to see what people say when I tell them I trained as a vet.

The next line usually is direct to a question about their pet, and some kind of advice. While its a tad frustrating to be asked about work stuff on my evenings out, its still a good ice breaker, and it helps me remember what an interesting career I have had.
So, anyone with any interesting pet questions, please post them up here!

So, why did I become a vet? Of course, it all stemmed from a love of nature and animals. I was hugely into science and nature since primary school, and enjoyed afternoons of ‘nature study’ in the park next to the natural history museum in London, as a small child.
Actually, I can remember wanting to be a vet from about 13 yrs old, although other people tell me it was from about 8 yrs old.
So, thats where it all started!